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2013

Read the following, especially you newbies or those who are using the e-cig currently and make up your own mind.  Knowledge is power.  The choice is always yours. 

 

  

Are E-Cigarettes a Boon or a Menace?

  

A new study says they may aid folks who want to quit smoking. But doctors fear there's a darker side to the electronic devices.

  
    An electronic cigarette store owner demonstrates a product.   
    

A man uses an electronic cigarette, a popular alternative to traditional cigarettes. But questions linger over their safety.

   
   

Photograph by Diedra Laird, Charlotte Observer/MCT/Getty Images

  

Diane Cole

for National Geographic

Published September 15, 2013

  

Electronic cigarettes may produce an aerosol vapor instead of smoke, but two new studies raise burning questions about their uses and risks.

  

E-cigs—as these battery-operated nicotine inhalers are commonly called—are increasingly popular, with a Wells Fargo financial analyst predicting that U.S. sales will double this year, going up to $1.7 billion.

  

Their visibility is becoming ever greater as well, with television and online marketing campaigns that feature celebrities like Jenny McCarthy and Stephen Dorff touting the pleasures of what they describe as more socially acceptable, "guilt-free" smoking.

  

The reasoning behind such claims is that e-cigs, which have the look of conventional cigarettes stylishly updated for the techno-age, produce vapor instead of ash or smoke. They also generally deliver lower amounts of nicotine than conventional cigarettes—a feature that may make e-cigarettes useful as an aid to smoking cessation.

  

Research Urgently Needed

  

Whether that is so was the focus of a study published in The Lancet, which concluded that e-cigarettes were statistically comparable to nicotine patches in helping smokers quit over a six-month period.

  

But this was only the first study to compare e-cigarettes to an already established quitting aid. "There is still so much that is unknown about the effectiveness and long-term effects of e-cigarettes" that more research is "urgently needed," cautioned lead researcher Chris Bullen, director of the National Institute for Health Innovation at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.

  

In that vein, Alexander Prokhorov, a smoking cessation expert at Houston's MD Anderson Cancer Center who was not involved in the study, commented, "I'm glad that there is finally some tangible research starting to appear."

  

But several aspects worry him. "Nicotine is not a neutral substance," and in addition to being highly addictive, "it can be a poisonous substance."

  

Because e-cigs mimic the look and rituals of conventional cigarette smoking, there is a danger that rather than e-cigs helping you quit, "you may just switch to this product and continue using it," Prokhorov said. And since a smoker's dependence on nicotine remains, there is a risk for a relapse to smoking conventional cigarettes.

  

Not a Risk-Free Alternative

  

Still, wouldn't there be some potential benefit to using only electronic cigarettes as an alternative to conventional cigarettes? "There is no question that e-cigarettes deliver less toxins than conventional cigarettes," said Stanton Glantz, director of the University of California, San Francisco's Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. They may have as little as one-tenth of the toxins inhaled from burning tobacco, he said.

  

(Related: "Cigarettes vs. e-Cigarettes: Which Is Less Environmentally Harmful?")

  

But that's not the entire story, he emphasized. "Whereas e-cigarettes are less dangerous than regular cigarettes, in an absolute sense they are negative," because they contain a number of toxic chemicals and ultrafine particles in addition to nicotine, and secondhand e-cig vapor could be harmful.

  

Moreover, he continued, "most people who use e-cigarettes also continue to use regular cigarettes; they are dual users. That means they are probably suffering all the risks from smoking."

  

There is also a quality control issue for e-cigarettes, both Glantz and Prokhorov agreed. Unlike prescription nicotine patches, no electronic cigarettes have been approved for therapeutic use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "Further research is needed to assess the potential public health benefits and risks of electronic cigarettes and other novel tobacco products," said FDA spokesperson Jennifer Haliski. (Although the FDA's authority extends only to those e-cigs marketed for therapeutic purpose, with none having gained approval, it has announced its intention to propose broadening regulations to encompass additional categories of tobacco products that would include all electronic cigarettes.)

  

That's an important point, said Glantz, because the Lancet study's bottom line is that electronic cigarettes "are no worse than nicotine patches, but they are no better either." That leads to the question: "Why would you use something that has not been tested when there is something [with] quality control and [that] has been tested?"

  

Gateway Cigs for Teens?

  

Another question, about the average age of electronic cigarette users, brings us to the second study. This one, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows that the number of U.S. middle and high school students using e-cigarettes doubled between 2011 and 2012, bringing the number nationwide who had tried e-cigs to 1.78 million.http://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2013/p0905-ecigarette-use.html

  

That statistic is disturbing, said Tim McAfee, director of the CDC's Office on Smoking and Health, because about 90 percent of all smokers begin in their teens. E-cigarettes may be particularly attractive to youngsters because they are sold in a broad array of flavors, including cherry, vanilla, and even bubblegum. "We know that this makes these products more appealing to children," he said. "The worry is that it is going to acclimatize kids to the behaviors that are like smoking. Until proven otherwise, we need to assume that this may increase their chances of taking up smoking with burn [conventional] cigarettes."

  

Prokhorov shares that worry. "My major concern is that this will be a gateway behavior, a potential risk of getting kids hooked on nicotine for life," he said. That's also why Glantz favors greater regulations, including banning the use of flavors (which are prohibited in conventional tobacco cigarettes) as well as prohibiting the sale of e-cigs to minors.

  

"In the current world, where cigarettes are ubiquitous with a marketing budget of $8 billion a year, we have to be careful and not make it easy" for vulnerable children to start using tobacco, said McAfee, whose budget for the CDC's 2012 Tips from Former Smokers campaign was $54 million.

  

"You go on YouTube and see how e-cigarettes are being glamorized, making smoking look sexy and rebellious," he said, which are the very elements that research has shown will attract kids to smoking. This is why media critics are comparing current e-cig ads to the ubiquitous cigarette ads of the 1950s, he added.

  

But going back to that era would be a mistake, said Prokhorov. "Psychologically, our society has just started to enjoy a tobacco-free and smoke-free life," he said. "The renaissance of cigarettes in e- or any other form is not a pretty picture."

Giulia

HOW PRECIOUS IS YOUR QUIT?

Posted by Giulia Champion Sep 10, 2013
   A thought spurred on by a discussion in Relapse Traps earlier today promoted me to write this blog. 

         

   What exactly is the value of your quit?  And what will you do, what ARE you doing to protect yourself  from relapse? 

    

   One of the things I’ve often suggested is buying a “reality” object for yourself - let’s say a week after you’ve quit.  But first a bit of history on the concept of the “reality” object.  It  stems from a suggestion by a friend long, LONG ago during the late 60s, early 70s, when people were taking LSD, acid, hallucinogens on a regular basis.  The “reality object” was something very common and familiar to you that you kept with you (for this one friend it was a coin) and if things got a little out of control and wacky in your brain (which of course they WOULD if you’re taking those kinds of drugs)  you could (supposedly) pull it out and hold it, feel it touch it, look at it, and it was supposed to bring you back, or at least maintain the thread of your blown mind to some sense of the reality that you were familiar with before you went tripping off into lala land. 

  

        And after I quit I thought, what a wonderful old idea that “reality object” is.  Our addiction and it’s attendant thought processes can be related to people who are hallucinating.  We lose all sense of the reality to the dangers of smoking when we’re beside ourselves with cravings, and we enter some other zone.  A zone where we seem to lose our minds.  Certainly we lose the sense of commitment that we had.  We stop thinking rationally about our quits and we are in “GOTTA HAVE” romancing-the-cigarette mode.  Or EXCUSE MODE.  Or...whatever you want to term it, we are not thinking realistically nor rationally.  We are functioning purely emotionally out of extreme duress, stress, fear, anxiety, want, need.... at that point.   

  

   So maybe a “reality object” might help to bring someone back from the relapse cliff edge.  The following  are some ideas I have as to what those objects might be.  This object is something to keep in your Quit Kit. 

   

   After you’ve quit for as little as a week, buy yourself something with all the money you saved from that week of not smoking.  At a minimum of $6 a pack - that’s a decent sum after a week.   If you’re a long-term quitter - do it after a year, or - YOU specify the time.  One month, six, the first hundred days, quad squad...  This object should be small enough to carry with you at all times.  It might be a locket on which your quit date is inscribed, or a ring with an inscription, a beautiful small stone, a new wallet, a silver dollar, a shell, a medallion, a feather from a rare bird....  It needs to be something that you have paid some money for.  Or, as Jim suggested - a $100 bill on which you write your quit pledge and date.   

    

   Now, here’s the deal - you blow your quit, you have to give up the object.  So I suggest you spend a lot of money on this object.  Because money tends to have value to our reality brains.  It speaks VERY LOUDLY.  And I’m trying to equate the worth of our quits with monetary worth because our brains at least DO "get" that.  Even under the hallucinatory EXCUSES of cravings. 

    

   You slip, you relapse, you give up the object.  Give it away.  Or throw it in the trash.  You’ve given away your quit, after all...  If your quit isn’t precious to you, then the object (with which your quit is equated) also becomes worthless.  I would suggest that you never have the opportunity to get it back, but that would be unfair to relapsers who come back to reclaim their freedom.  So if you intend to get back on the horse immediately after relapsing, give it to a friend to keep (until you’ve got your quit back for the same number of days you had before you relapsed) 

    

   Personally I think burning  the hundred dollar bill would be in order (rather than giving it away).  So I’ll say, that’s the deal with the bill, if you choose that as your quit equivalency object.  You’ve relapsed and you’re gonna spend that much on the next X number of packs of  cigarettes anyway.  What’s the difference?  It’s all going up in smoke.  Right?  Whether it’s smoke going into your mouth and lungs, or just rising up from the bill your burning. You're still throwing it away.    

    

   But, ah, yes, the DIFFERENCE is you don’t want to burn that $100 bill.  Right?  You don’t want to give away that locket you’ve inscribed with the sweat and blood of your struggle for freedom, do you?  But don’t you see, it is the embodiment of your quit.  You have no right to it any more if you’ve given away the thing for which it stands.  It’s an emblem.  And you are no longer deserving of the honor of owning it.   

  

     Another emblem of your quit could be something that you don’t buy, but something that is very dear to you.  A one-of-a-kind piece.  Perhaps a gift from a friend, a lock of your child’s baby hair, an irreplaceable photo of your grandparents.  You can choose that as your “reality object” and the moment you give up your quit, you give up that thing that is so precious  to you.  Destroy the photo under the kitchen tap, shatter the friend’s gift with a hammer, flush the baby hair down the toilet.   

    

   Do this.  In some way, in whatever fashion you choose, but do it.  And be true to it.  Truly give it away if you blow your quit.  Toss it painfully in the trash and don’t fetch it back.   Or burn that bill.  It is an important lesson to teach you the value of your quit.  It’s not just a thought exercise.  Because the value of your life, which is why you quit, is beyond measure.   

    

   How precious is YOUR quit?  What will you do to protect it?  How much is it worth to you? 
Giulia

REPLAY THE RELAPSE

Posted by Giulia Champion Sep 2, 2013

I was asked to repost this so I am - unfortunately I don't know the author. 

Replay the Relapse

"Those were my wifes stats had she not fallen. Why did she lose her quit.....it really doesn't matter. Could it have been avoided? Who knows. I posted the following for a good friend of mine earlier today and felt that everyone should read it. Here goes:
    Picture yourself a second or two after you stub out that quit-breaking cigarette. The one that you just had to have because the craving was so strong you couldn't hold out any longer, when that voice inside you was saying.. "Go on, life sucks, you may as well smoke a cig.. y'know for your nerves.." or the other one.. "you've got this beat now.. you are in control.. you can have one just now and again.. go on have one for old time's sake.." So you bum a cigarette, and smoke it and in 2 and 1/2 minutes, you stub it out.

    Now what. Your mouth feels like crap. Your lungs are tightening up. You managed to stifle the coughs .. but barely. You began to squint again because the smoke hurt your eyes. and your fingers and clothes smell again. You either want to throw up, grab some mouthwash, take a shower, or have another.. maybe buy a pack.
    But then you realize what you've just done. After all those times when you said you were going to quit, and then when you finally did, and your family and friends were so happy for you - but not exactly over the moon, because after all they've been hopeful before only to see you relapse - all that enthusiasm is now smashed to pieces on the floor. And all the pressure that drove you to grab that cigarette in the first place - it's all still there. Nothing has changed, except now you've added one more problem: you just blew it.
    And then you realize what you've really done. You had invested days, maybe weeks and months, in this quit. You had made a great decision, one of the few things you really and truly felt proud of in your life, and you just blew it. You just blew the quit that you swore to yourself was the last one. You were so positive, so motivated, and encouraged, you were really on top of it, ahead of the game for once, you had taken control of your life and it felt like a whole new beginning.. and you just blew it.
    You look at that stub in the ashtray. The grey ash and the brown edge to the burnt paper, and the tar stain on the end of filter. You remember the thousands of cigarettes you have stubbed out and think about the tar that came into your lungs as smoke. And you think if smoking that one cigarette was worth it. Nothing's better. You feel a little dizzy now as the nicotine hits your body, even a little nauseous - certainly don't feel the pleasure that you remember the adverts and billboards were promoting during your early years as a smoker. In fact it's hard to remember any time when you felt that pleasure.. just another tobacco company lie.. They helped you to become an addict the first time, but when you smoked that cigarette after you quit.. well that was a whole new decision. You made that one all by yourself - there's no pointing fingers now, you know that cigarettes kill, so when you lit that one cigarette, the choice to smoke was all yours - no-one else to blame. And you just blew it.

    It wasn't worth it.. time after time the slippers' and relapsers' lament how they feel like crap, how ashamed they are, how they have lost confidence and hope, how they hate themselves, how much it hurts, how depressed and they cry and hide and cry some more. And now you are one of them.. the quit losers. Lost in the wilderness, not quite a smoker.. yet and not sure you are a quitter, searching for some dignity, some self-respect out of this. All because of that one cigarette. Because you blew it.
    OK, time to come back.. thankfully this was a "Picture yourself..." so none of this really happened. You didn't smoke that cigarette, and your quit is intact. You take a deep breath and you can still fill your lungs without breaking down into a hacking cough. You can smile, because you are still in control. The craving passes and you can shake your head a little and give yourself a little pat on the back at your success. You remained true the promise you made to yourself on day one. Because none of this really happened.
    Did it ?"

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That spurred me on to write my own Replay the Relapse back in '08.

"My mind tells me I want to smoke....so I get my purse.....get my car keys (or if I’m out in the car I go to a gas station)....I walk in....I’m already feeling guilty....but my craving is taking hold of me....I ask for a pack of Marlboro Lights Box...there’s a little angel on my shoulder tapping me trying to get my attention....I don’t feel good about asking for a pack....but I want it...asking for a pack - saying those words makes me know I’m about to fail....but I think I will just smoke one....but I secretly know if I do, I will smoke the whole pack...one part of me is screaming not to...the other part is simply a gut reaction that has no basis in choosing....it’s simply a want...but it’s screaming louder...the pack is presented to me...I put the money down...and take the pack...I unwrap it on the way to the car...because I can’t wait...I put the wrapper in my pocket because I don’t want my husband to see it...I’ll throw it out later...I turn the car on auxiliary and open the window because a car closed up full of smoke is unpleasant...I am no longer thinking, I no longer feel the angel’s tap...it is just pure feeling...I have lost all control...I take a match from my visor which I’ve left there and light the cigarette...and inhale - gently...because I know that I haven’t smoked in a while and it will seem harsh...and ah God it tastes good...well, perhaps not as good as it was, it is a bit harsh and does make me a little dizzy...oh and slightly nauseous...but I know that will pass soon enough...and by the end of the cigarette, which I smoke down to practically nothing but the filter, I’ve gotten used to it again...what doesn’t occur to me is that I’m now hooked again...that that’s all it took...I think  "that’s it, I’m only smoking this one"...and then I get home having secreted the pack somewhere in my purse...and I know it’s there...and it starts calling me like a siren, niggling at my mind...and you all know the rest of the story....".
Or - the scenario I prefer to imagine:
"My mind tells me I want to smoke...so I get my purse...drive to a gas station...walk in...ask for pack of Marlboro Lights Box and at that moment alarm bells start going off in my head...you can’t do this...DON’T do this. You Don’t want to have To Go Through the QUITTING PROCESS ALL OVER AGAIN...YOU DON’T WANT ANOTHER DAY ONE...and as the guy behind the counter is turning back to me with the pack in his hand I literally run out of the place....I get in my car...close the door...and sit there breathing hard because I almost blew it...I was that close...I was that close...and my heart is beating so fast...and I’m gulping air...and I’ve got goose bumps all over my body because adrenaline is pumping through my cells...and I’m not even thinking...just feeling...until slowly it all subsides and thought process comes back and I realize I did it...somehow I did it...I didn’t buy the cigarettes...and I’m rather amazed and a little light headed...and I drive off in wonder with my mouth slightly open....and then remember to thank the little angel on my shoulder...."

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How does your relapse replay go?

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